In a significant victory, the Ontario Divisional Court recently set aside a Workplace Safety Insurance Appeals Tribunal (“WSIAT”) decision and directed the WSIAT to grant benefits to the injured worker.
The Worker was injured on the job and, as a result, was no longer able to work. However, he was denied benefits by the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (“WSIB”) and the WSIAT because he waited several weeks after the accident before seeking medical care. The WSIAT found that the Worker had not proven that the workplace accident significantly contributed to his injury.
At the Divisional Court, the Worker argued that it was unreasonable for the WSIAT to discount uncontradicted medical evidence and to rely so heavily on his delay in seeking treatment. The Court agreed, finding that the WSIAT’s decision suffered “from serious logical flaws” which resulted in an “outcome [that was] unreasonable, based on the record.” It therefore set the WSIAT’s decision aside.
The Court then went one step further and held that the delay in resolving the Worker’s claim was a serious concern. The accident occurred in 2005, which meant that the Worker had been waiting over 15 years for benefits. Given the amount of time that had elapsed since the injury and the clear evidentiary record, the Court did not send the file back to the WSIAT for reconsideration. Instead, it found that the Worker was entitled to benefits for the injury. It referred the matter back to the WSIAT to assess his claim.
This is an important win for workers who are faced with unreasonable decisions from statutory tribunals such as the WSIAT. It affirms that the Divisional Court has the option, in certain cases, to direct the outcome instead of sending the issue back to the tribunal for reconsideration.